Dalton goes extra mile for Ryan

Rebecca Dalton was All-Catholic for a second year in a row in cross country. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Some had to get in shape.

Rebecca Dalton didn’t have that problem at all.

Dalton is a junior striker on the Archbishop Ryan High School girls soccer team, and when the Catholic League announced it was going to compete in fall sports about two weeks after it said it was going to postpone those sports until the spring, she didn’t have any of the problems of quickly getting into game shape because she was already active in a sport.

One that certainly gets you ready to run.

Dalton is also a track star who runs cross country for the Ragdolls, so she was putting in plenty of miles all year. And since cross country had already started its season since it could be done safely with social distancing, Dalton was in midseason form when she got the call that soccer was returning.

“In the beginning of (cross country) season, we weren’t playing soccer yet so I went to all the practices and just tried to get faster,” said Dalton, who lives in Chalfont. “Both are distance running. You run so much playing soccer, so I think doing both really helps me in the other sport.”

Dalton didn’t just participate in two sports.

She excelled in both.

In cross country, for the second year in a row, she qualified for the state championship run, this year finishing fifth in the District 12 race.

She also became a top soccer player for the Ragdolls as a first-year starter.

Ryan had a talented team back, but coach Jon Geist did need to find some scoring, and Dalton came through, leading the team in scoring.

“I knew I had to prove it from the first day of practice,” Dalton said. “I learned to be more physical and to be more aggressive, and Coach Geist told me I needed to be more confident. He told me my confidence level rose, that made me better. I think that was the big part of how I improved so much.

“It wasn’t just me, but my teammates, too. I worked really well with them. We have a close team, we all try to help each other.”

Dalton’s soccer season came to an abrupt ending last week when the Ragdolls fell to Northwestern Lehigh in the first round of the state playoffs. The teams played to a scoreless tie in regulation and two overtimes before Northwestern Lehigh advanced in penalty kicks.

It was really a tough way to end the season after the Ragdolls controlled the play for the bulk of the game, but Dalton is proud of what she and her teammates accomplished this year.

“It was very hard to lose, especially because of the seniors, it’s hard to walk off the field with them for the last time. I’m really going to miss playing with them. They’ve helped me and they’re good friends.”

Dalton’s fall season is now complete, but she isn’t going to get much time to rest. She suffered a minor knee injury at the end of the year, so she wants to get some time to take care of it, but she’s now looking forward to indoor track season and will also be busy with her club soccer team, Hulmeville, where she plays center midfield.

So a lot of running is still in her future. She also has high hopes of having a strong senior season, especially at states, where she was unable to do her best in the big race.

“That wasn’t my best race, I struggled,” Dalton said. “I hurt my knee right before the race, so it hurt a lot. It still hurts a little, I need to get it checked out before I start indoor track, but it’s not too bad.”

She also plans on being a two-sport fall athlete next year, and she credits her coaches for allowing it. In fact, they encourage it and do whatever they can to make sure she’s able to do both.

“I’ve been playing soccer my whole life,” Dalton said. “I started running in seventh grade when my mom figured out I was a distance runner and not a sprinter. I’ve been doing both ever since.

“It’s not that hard to balance, I mostly go to soccer and I try to go to whatever I can to cross country, but I was able to go to all the practices early in the season. Both coaches really work with me. Sometimes, it’s hard when you’re not practicing. It definitely helps a lot, more with the finish and start of the race because you get more sprint in the start. And running definitely helps me with soccer.”

It also helps to come from an athletic family.

Her older sister Emily plays lacrosse at Holy Family. Her older brother James was a football player at Washington, and her younger brother Christopher, a freshman, is a football player and wrestler at Ryan.

Next year, she hopes to use all the things she learned along the way from her family and coaches to have a successful senior campaign.

“I want to do better in states in cross country,” Dalton said. “I hope to be a better leader and maybe be a captain next year. I hope we have another great year.”